Issue #2003 - 10
INFRASTRUCTURE, PRODUCTS & SERVICES
Wireless Leaders Debate the Role of Wi-Fi
Leaders from different segments of the wireless industry debated whether the future of wireless would see integration or competition between Wi-Fi networks and wide area commercial wireless networks.
Tim Donahue, chief executive of Nextel Communications, said efforts to organize Wi-Fi hot spots into networks were "a little like herding cats." He argued that the technologies could be complementary, but said it is too early to discern what approach the industry will take.
Sky Dayton, CEO of Boingo Wireless, argued that Wi-Fi and wireless 2.5 G networks are complementary and would eventually become integrated. "The cost of Wi-Fi is plummeting," he said. But, he added, "We need universal roaming."
John Marston, the VP of business development for Toshiba, concurred with Dayton's assessments. He estimated that there were 3,500 hotspots in the U.S. by the end 2002, and then announced that his group had, "already shipped more new hotspots for Wi-Fi than exist today." John Stanton, chairman of T-Mobile USA, said his company is ready to embrace Wi-Fi technology.
But, Dr. Irwin Jacobs, chairman and chief executive of Qualcomm, argued that the business case for Wi-Fi and wireless integration may not be that strong, and that commercial wireless networks such as 1xEV-DO, with its high data rates, make integration unnecessary.
(Source: Seattle Times, CNET News.com, Dow Jones Newswires, InfoWorld, CTIA Summary)
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MobileInfo Comments and Advisory: These
views represent vested interested of all these vendors and are right
in their own rights (pardon the pun). Nextel is correct in
categorizing the state of affairs as is - hotspots market is
unorganized. It is unorganized because carriers are not supporting a
fundamental trend that customers and consumers want. How long will
carriers continue to ignore it? Carriers may find that grass root
trends are difficult to be killed. They can delay its deployment
which they are doing by either not supporting it or supporting it
half-heartedly. Wi-Fi will definitely succeed in the enterprise, as
far as we can tell. It also has a high probability of succeeding in
the consumer sector. Large players with cash (Intel, IBM and others)
are behind this. It is in the interest of cash-starved carriers to
join the band wagon. We hope we are wrong in our assessment and
carriers will jump in as soon as the technology solutions of
hotspots mature and there is a critical mass of 100,000 hot spots in
North America and Europe each. we expect that to happen by mid-2004.
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